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American Mania: When More is Not Enough Paperback – April 17, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0393328493 ISBN-10: 039332849X Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (April 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039332849X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393328493
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The indictment of American society offered here—that America's supercharged free-market capitalism shackles us to a treadmill of overwork and overconsumption, frays family and community ties and leaves us anxious, alienated and overweight—is familiar. What's more idiosyncratic and compelling is the author's grounding his treatise in political economy (citing everyone from Adam Smith to Thorstein Veblen) as well as in neuropsychiatry, primatology and genetics. Psychiatrist Whybrow (Mood Apart) diagnoses a form of clinical mania in which "the dopamine reward systems of the brain are... hijacked" by pleasurable frenzies like the Internet bubble. Genes are to blame: programmed to crave material rewards on the austere savanna, they go bananas in an economy of superabundance. Americans are particularly susceptible because they are descended from immigrants with a higher frequency of the "exploratory and novelty-seeking D4-7 allele" in the dopamine receptor system, which predisposes them to impulsivity and addiction. The malady is "treatable," Whybrow asserts, not with Paxil but with a vaguely defined program of communitarianism and recovery therapeutics, exemplified by his friends Peanut, a farmer rooted in the land, and Tom, a formerly manic entrepreneur who has learned to live in the present moment. Whybrow's analysis of the contemporary rat race is acute, and by medicalizing the problem he locates it in behavior and genetics—away from the arena of conventional political and economic action where more systemic solutions might surface, but toward a place where individual responsibility can turn "self-interest into social fellowship."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Whybrow has seen the future. -- New York Times, Irene Lacher

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Customer Reviews

Fundamental to personal happiness is the emotional insight gained from living honestly in the moment.
Ramanathan S. Manavasi
Whoever you are, whatever your interests or profession, this book is a must read if you want to better understand your country!!
M. Persic
I felt that this was like a plot contrivance to "wrap things up", and it came across as a bit too neat.
Karl J. Hanson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Ramanathan S. Manavasi on February 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Nickname : Ram Location, Macon, Georgia, USA.

Real Name : Ramanathan S Manavasi

In his book "Our Culture of Pandering" , Paul Simon, a Director of the Public Policy Institute at the University of Southern Illinois clearly and pointedly discusses several issues -taxes, social security, civil liberties, crime - that invite pandering.

The brilliant and prophetic book "Why America's Children Cannot Think" authored by Peter Kline argues passionately for viable solutions to America's educational crisis. It offers solutions to our children concerning interpretation skills in the highly competitive information age.

What we see in America normally is a weird intermingling of high ideals with gross materialism, the lofty and vulgar cheek to cheek. The people who detest USA take a look at this odd conjunction and assume the materialistic America is the real America. The real America, they insist, is the resource wasting, TV-drenched unreflective part of the earth. The President's talk about freedom, the high toned language is just a cover, they say, for the quest for oil. Desire for riches, dominion and war.

Viewed in this context, the recent magnum opus of Dr. Peter S Whybrow's "American Mania-- When More Is Not Enough" is a wonderful and comprehensive analysis of the disease that afflicts us all. Drawing upon detailed case studies and alarming statistics of obesity, depression, and panic disorders, offers compassionate guidance offers compassionate guidance. Interestingly, he suggests that our immigrant heritage accounts for our compulsion to push for more. Migrants are by nature risk takers and reward seekers, and we've concentrated tens of millions of them in America.
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150 of 166 people found the following review helpful By David Gregory on February 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Peter Whybrow's American Mania: When More Is Not Enough

Reviewed by Dr. David Gregory

As a cultural anthropologist, I spent decades studying the problems and opportunities of international labor migration. Later, I left academia and immersed myself in the world of international commerce and finance. My experience has left me hard to impress. I am impressed with Dr. Peter Whybrow's book, American Mania: When More is Not Enough. I found it insightful, challenging and ultimately empowering.

Dr. Whybrow invites us to look at where we have arrived after three incredible centuries, to contemplate the paradoxes of our unique prosperity and its current effects on our physical health, our state of mind, the quality of our social relations, and the future direction of our nation. He does so from a unique perspective derived from his expertise in medicine, neuroscience and evolutionary biology. His deep concern is that the "fabulous" turbo-paced, technologically driven society we Americans have built is outpacing our physiological abilities to adjust and may therefore be unsustainable. Presenting facts and provocative case studies, he offers a convincing argument that, "In our compulsive drive for more, we are making ourselves sick."

As a people we are suffering from obesity, the burdens of debt, and shallow social relations fractured by unbridled self-interest. As a result, we are taking an increasing amount of drugs in a desperate attempt to treat stress-related diseases, depression, and high blood pressure. "We are sleeping less, working longer, spending less time with our families in the manic rush to earn more money to buy more goods that leave us wanting more."

At least one critic has implied that Dr.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful By John Zxerce on March 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The thesis of Whybrow's book is one that rings true, "In our relentless pursuit of happiness, we have overshot the target and spawned a manic society with an insatiable appetite for more." He does a great job of clearly identifying the problem as he sets down an indictment of American society, suggesting America's supercharged free-market capitalism shackles us to a treadmill of overconsumption, fraying the family and leaving us anxious, alienated and overweight.

In attempting to diagnose the 'why' behind the 'what', Whybrow suggests "the dopamine reward systems of the brain are... hijacked, and genes are to blame: programmed to crave material rewards on the austere savanna, they go bananas in an economy of superabundance. Americans are particularly susceptible because they are descended from immigrants with a higher frequency of the "exploratory and novelty-seeking D4-7 allele" in the dopamine receptor system, which predisposes them to impulsivity and addiction."

I'm not convinced about this. America is too big a melting pot for such a seemingly broad-sweeping, all-inclusive answer. Furthermore, I question the science behind the assertion.

However, I believe he's spot on when he writes, "The mind is prone to addiction," Whybrow claims, "Everybody is capable of becoming addicted to something - wine, sex, food, exercise, the very pursuit of happiness. Paradoxically, freedom without restraint is enervating, not liberating. There's a difference between pleasure and happiness; happiness depends on limits."'

Here is the greatest contribution of the book. His statement is something which is unpopular, and at the same time corresponds with the human condition. "Happiness depends on limits.
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